January 9, 1852


1852 Friday Jan 9th

[…]Have had about 30 here this evening and

quite a pleasant time though the weather not

pleasant.  Lavinia came here with Augustus last

night and we ladies have had a nice time making

cake and getting ready for them  Helen & Lavinia

made the bed in the front chamber to suit themselves

Oakes and Evelina Ames hosted a wedding reception at their house for newlyweds Edwin and Augusta Pool Gilmore, attended by members of the extended Gilmore and Pool families who traveled through inclement weather to get there. The celebration, complete with cake and tea – but no wine – was “quite a pleasant time.” What a special occasion for a cold, dark time of year.

The preparations for the party had been fun, too.  Lavinia Gilmore, sister of the groom, had been driven back to Evelina’s, carried by her brother Augustus Gilmore, to help with the cake. More cake! Helen Angier Ames had walked over from next door, again. The two young unmarried women had a sleep-over at their Aunt Evelina’s.

What might the cake have been made of? Sarah Josepha Hale offers up quite a recipe for a wedding cake in her 1841 The Good Housekeeper:

Take two pounds and a half of dried and sifted flour, allow the same quantity of fresh butter washed with rose water, two pounds of finely pounded loaf sugar, three pounds of cleaned and dried currants, one pound of raisins stoned, one nutmeg grated, half a pound of sweetmeats cut small, a quarter pound of blanched almonds pounded with a little rose water, and twenty eggs, the yolks and whites separately beaten.  

The butter must be beaten by hand till it becomes like cream; then add the sugar, and by degrees the eggs; after these, the rest of the ingredients, mixing in at last the currants, with nearly a tea-cupful of rose or orange flower water.  This mixture must be beaten together rather more than half an hour, then put into a cake-pan, which has previously been buttered and lined with buttered paper; fill it rather more than three quarters full.  It should be baked in a moderate oven for three hours, and then cooled gradually, by at first letting it stand some time at the mouth of the oven.

If you fear the bottom of the cake may burn, put the pan on a plate with saw-dust between.”*

*Sarah Josepha Hale, The Good Housekeeper, 1841, p. 100

January 7, 1852




Wednesday Jan 7th

Heat the brick oven baked a loaf

of brown bread two loaves of fruit cake for

Augusta & mince pies  A & L were at Edwins

this forenoon. This afternoon have sewed for me on 

Susans dress.  I have been making frosting for

the cake  Helen has been in and the girls have had

a nice time over it  Frank carried them home


Augusta Pool and Lavinia Gilmore were once again helping Lavinia’s Aunt Evelina. Helen Angier Ames, too, came over from next door, and the young maidens had “a nice time over it.” They did a little sewing for Evelina – that must have pleased her – and helped prepare frosting for Augusta’s wedding cake, which Evelina had kindly undertaken to make, along with all the regular baking she was doing for her family. Augusta was to be married the next day to Evelina’s nephew, Edwin Williams Gilmore.

If the women were following the instructions of Sarah Josepha Hale, they would have made “Iceing for Cakes,” according to the following instructions:

Beat the whites of four eggs to a stiff foam, and add gradually three quarters of a pound of the best double-refined loaf sugar, pounded and sifted; mix in the juice of half a lemon, or a tea-spoonful of rose water.  Beat the mixture till very light and white; place the cake before the fire, pour over the iceing, and smooth over the top and sides with the back of a spoon.”**

When it got late, Frank Morton Ames took Augusta and Cousin Lavinia back to their respective families in the countryside. The light of a full moon guided them along in a sleigh over snow that was “now about a futt deep.”***

* Image of 19th century wedding cake courtesy of http://www.fourpoundsflour.com

**Sarah Josepha Hale, The Good Housekeeper, 1841, p. 101

***Journal of Oliver Ames, Courtesy of Stonehill College Archives